Opinion: Is this the start of Plan A+?

It looks like the coming months will see new initiatives to boost the economy, following the second quarter contraction (now revised up slightly to -0.5%) and a record trade deficit.

As The Spectator reports,

No. 10 is aware, though, that the biggest single influence on the mood of the party — the country, for that matter — is the economy. So Cameron intends to fill the hole left in the coalition’s legislative programme by the failure of Lords reform with economic measures. This legislation, being called the Jobs Bill in No. 10, will be made up of three parts: deregulation, infrastructure and industrial strategy. The precise composition of the bill is being hammered out. But the decision to include deregulation is recognition that attempts to make departments deregulate their own sectors have failed.

But, according to The Times (£), the Lib Dems are not to be sidelined:

Nick Clegg has ordered his senior ministers to draw up a list of economic reforms as he vies with David Cameron to fill the void left by the collapse of the Government’s House of Lords reforms.

The group will examine how better to get credit moving to businesses and how to ensure there is sufficient demand on the economy. Mr Clegg has already suggested that he thinks the Government’s banking reforms could go farther…

The Liberal Democrats need to be seen at the forefront of efforts to draw up a “Plan A-plus”.

The team includes Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, and Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister. Also included in the group, which met this week, is David Laws, the former Treasury Minister who is expected to return to Government with a job in the Cabinet Office after next month’s ministerial reshuffle.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports that,

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, is to send troubleshooters into 13 local authorities to help negotiate the resumption of large housing developments.

He believes that kick-starting existing developments will avoid the need for further deregulation of the planning system…

New proposals are expected in the autumn in an economic regeneration Bill which will also include plans to improve infrastructure and aviation capacity.

Labour also have their own plans (Financial Times, registration required):

Ed Miliband is drawing up proposals for a National Investment Bank to funnel money into business and infrastructure in a move that puts pressure on the government to follow suit…

The Financial Times revealed last week that some figures in government would like to see RBS fully nationalised to force it to lend more to small business – although that plan has been blocked by George Osborne, the chancellor…

Labour will use its autumn party conference to repeat its call for an alternative “growth package”.

As Nick Clegg hinted at the Social Liberal Forum Conference, we may also see the Government use its super-low cost of borrowing to help housing associations build more homes, which would be very welcome.

Any legislation will hopefully be more than a way to fill in parliamentary time and be seen to be doing something, but it’s good to see recognition that “we can’t go on like this”.

* Adam Corlett is an economic analyst and Lib Dem member

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4 Comments

  • house building is a win win policy. sbame it’s taken 2 years….

  • Richard Dean 13th Aug '12 - 9:56am

    House building caused Spain to seek bailout funds! It sounds like a powerful team. Perhaps this is still Plan A, but the hidden part, which says Get the bad stuff over quick so the country can feel good again just before the next election!

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